Unlike many other businesses that must be closed down during the Covid-19 pandemic, community pharmacies will continue to function in order to offer essential counseling and medicine supplies to hospitals and household consumers.
With a noticeable rise in demand for medicines, paired with a massive change in customer behavior, 24/7 pharmacies are under tremendous pressure to meet unprecedented demand as the pandemic emerges.
In this post, we’ll see how pharmacists can follow the best practices to keep their customers and staff safe.
Implement Controls to Ensure Social Distancing
Considering the fact that the Coronavirus outbreak is highly contagious, community pharmacists should take appropriate measures to limit the number of patients or visitors entering the premises one at a time. Make sure that there’s a distance of at least two meters when attending to a customer. While there’s no strict guidance on how social distancing measures should be enforced in pharmacies, the below-listed points will surely help you maintain a safe distance.
- Place barriers in front of the counter or doorways to avoid customers from getting close
- Use tape on the floor to divide areas that patients or customers can stand in while waiting
- Use a tray to collect prescriptions and handover supplies
- Install clear plastic at the patient contact area to protect against droplets from coughs or sneezes
- Do not offer magazines or newspapers in waiting areas. Also, keep the waiting lounge clean and disinfected on a routine basis
Keeping Your Staff Safe
First things first, make sure that workers who have fever or cough stay home until they have fully recovered. Some workers will be concerned that the ‘public dealing’ aspect of their job puts them at a greater risk of contracting the virus. While, it is really important, to be honest about the current situation, make sure you keep your staff motivated and well-informed on practices the staff can implement to curtail risk.
- Ensure workers with respiratory illnesses have little or no direct contact with customers
- Help your workers develop other skills which may be useful if someone within your team is unable to provide services in the future
- Last but not least, clearly communicate with your staff that if someone in their family show symptoms, they have to isolate for 14 days
In order to cope with the challenges of the current crisis, it’s important that you revise your business strategies. You may have to reconsider how you connect with your customers/patients. Face-to-face consultations should be minimized and pharmacies that offer supervised consumption services can drop out supervised consumption of OST to reduce the spread of the deadly virus. However, all these actions should be taken on a case-by-case basis.
Ensuring Adequate Storage and Supply of Stock
Community pharmacies should prioritize what their local customers require. It’s all about how tactfully you manage the shortages and rising demand. For instance, if standard packs of paracetamol are short, you can split the large packs and sell them as standard sizes.
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Following Proper Hygiene/Infection Control Measures
Needless to stay, you should ensure the pharmacy is clean inside and out. Everyone including your staff and customers entering the pharmacy should wear a face mask to prevent the spread. Frequently clean and disinfect all surfaces especially customer service counters to reduce the risk.
Maintaining Effective Communication with Patients
Consider how you can keep effective communication with your customers. Try to educate them and keep them informed about genuine statistics and progress. It would be great if you try to carry forward maximum communication by telephone. Make sure you make pragmatic and timely decisions during this difficult time to keep your staff and customers safe.